Payson Fired Up For Firecracker Skirmish

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The Payson 35-years-and-over men's soccer team is looking to improve upon last year's Independence Day Invitational Tournament runner-up finish.

The team will have the opportunity to do so at the 2004 invitational to be played July 2 to 4 on both Rumsey Park multipurpose fields.

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Last year's Independence Day men's 35-years-and over soccer tournament action was fast and furious on two fields at Rumsey Park. This year's play is expected to be equally exciting.

Set to participate are four Valley-area teams -- Sand Dragons, Mirage, Arsenal and Incinerators -- who have participated in previous Payson tournaments.

The lone newcomer in the field is Caliso. The team replaces the Hard Rockers, who participated last year, but chose not to return.

If the Payson team has a rivalry building it would be with Arsenal. At last year's tournament, Payson whipped Arsenal 3-1 in the opening round robin. But in the championship showdown, the Rim country crew -- obviously fatigued by two days of play in searing heat -- was upset 3-0 by Arsenal. In the round robin, the surprisingly tough Payson team finished first with a 4-1 record. Overall, the team wrapped up the holiday event with a 5-2 slate.

The showing was the best Payson has posted in the history of the tournament.

According to team spokesman Lee Woods, this year's roster will include many of the same athletes who played last year.

Efren Arguello paced Payson in 2003 scoring a team-high seven goals. Scott Homan tallied three and Jason Schwein had two.

The Independence Day tournament format will remain much the same as it has been in past years.

Action begins at 8 p.m. this evening (Friday) with single games on both the Rumsey park fields. Payson takes on Arsenal on the Rumsey library field. The other game will pit the Sand Dragons vs. Mirage.

Games will also be played from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. July 3 and 8 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. July 4.

Payson's games on July 3 are 9:30 a.m. (vs. Incinerators on north field), 6:30 p.m. (vs. Caliso on north field ) and 8 p.m. (vs. Mirage on library field).

On Independence Day, Payson plays at 9:30 a.m. vs. the Sand Dragons on the library field.

The results of round robin tournament play will be used to seed the top four teams into finales that will decided first through fourth places.

In the scoring format, victorious teams receive six points and three points are awarded for a tie. Also, each team receives one point for each goal scored with a maximum of three points possible. One point is given a team that shuts out an opponent.

After the points are calculated, the No. 3 and 4 teams from the round robin are slated to battle for the bronze medal at 12:30 p.m. on Rumsey North. At 2 p.m. also on the library field, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams lock horns for championship bragging rights.

In addition to playing in the Independence Day tournament, the Payson team participates in both a spring and fall Sunday league in the Valley-based United Adult Soccer program.

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